Tuesday, June 9, 2009

VIA Roomette Interiors

Ever tried to photograph the inside of a roomette? It's a lot easier to photograph outside, since the VIA roomettes are near the vestibule, making shots like the one above possible. Inside, there's not a lot of room to spare, and even pulling the bed down (or out) requires backing out into the aisle. Here's how a VIA Accommodations folder from 1979 portrayed the interior:

Here is my view of the interior of Roomette 10 in Green Lane in 1980. Check out that shag-a-delic purple and yellow interior!

My luggage is still sitting on the floor, as the train heads north out of Toronto:

In 1981, I rode west in Ernestown, a former CN sleeper and one of 52 E-series cars. Here's an exterior view:

It was quite a coincidence to ride in the car which shared the name of my high school. Inside upper roomette 8, my suitcase is stowed above the toilet, sink, and mirror:

Once the bed was in place, the passenger was admonished by a small metal sign: "Accrocher la bride de surete au declancheur. Hook safety link over bed release handle." A CN blanket, and VIA hand-towel, matchbook and timetable:

A year later, it was still possible to receive a pre-VIA era surprise when turning in for the night - warm CPR and CNR blankets, produced by Ayers Woolen Mill, established in Lachute, Quebec in the late 19th century.

Roomettes were full of interesting doodads and thingamajigs. The ventilation fan had rubber blades in case you accidentally put your head in front of it. The doors could be slid open, and zippered full-length curtains left open or closed. If no-one occupied the roomette across the hall, it was possible to hop across to see passing sights, freight yards and meets. The rooomette number was shown by a small tab-like sign in the aisle, and was also displayed over the window inside the roomette. Sherwood Manor's Roomette 3 had bright-red interior paint:

The roomettes and sections were at the ends of the car, so it was always noisier there. Noises from the trucks, noises from the vestibule, and various annoying squeaks and scrapes from nowhere in particular. Each roomette had a shoe locker. When people used to dress up to take the train, the shoe locker held your shoes overnight. The porter would remove them from a door in the aisle, have them shined and returned to the locker by morning. And how about that safe repository for your used double-edged Wilkinson blades?

As the above sketch of Roomette 11 of Eldorado shows, this compact accommodation could be termed a bathroom with a bed in it. I rode Eldorado in June, 1980 and it was one of the last E-series sleepers on VIA's roster in 1994. Roomettes provide comfortable travel, creatively designed, and making the most of the scant space available.
Running extra...
Rapido Trains recently launched their Green-series sleeper models.
Last Friday's CP derailment in Oshawa meant that CP intermodals detoured over CN's Kingston Sub from Toronto to Brockville. I was able to catch two CP trains on Sunday, only the third time I can remember such detours over CN.
The latest issue of CRM (T16T6-April/May 2009) features my HO Winnipeg Terminals layout on the cover and inside in an article. Trackside Treasure is also mentioned in the Railway Website Reviews section. This charter subscriber would like to say "thanks" Morgan and John for showcasing my modelling efforts in Canada's model railway magazine.


Anonymous said...

Great posting again. I was waiting for this for a while and the pictures are great.
As a matter of fact I'll be using the photos for interior colour matches for painting the interior of a few HO sleepers.
Thanks once again....Great blog!!!!!!

Eric said...

A, thanks for your kind comments. It was always more of an adventure to bring down an upper roomette bed than to pull out a lower roomette bed.
Thanks for stopping by,

Don Thomas said...

The CP Rail 100 hat was produced for CP's centennial in 1981. CP didn't consider 1986 a centennial year, even though 1886 marked the actual opening of the railway from Montreal to Vancouver.

Don Thomas

Eric said...

Hi Don, 1981 the Company indeed marked the hundredth anniversary of its incorporation. It also marked the Last Spike Centennial of November 7, 1885, both with commemorative logos. Thanks for visiting my blog, Eric.

Anonymous said...


I rode from Edmonton to Montreal in one as I headed for New Entry Training at HMCS Cornwallis, in Deep Brook, NS. It was an exciting ride and one I have never forgotten because I had only been on a train once before, and I was too young to remember much about that ride.

Eric said...

Thanks for sharing your memories, Sandy. You had a classy ride east! For me as well in my early years, the roomette was a palace on wheels and a nice way to travel!